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Keynote: Meghan Sutherland

Meghan Sutherland is Associate Professor of Cinema & Visual Studies at the University of Toronto and a founding co-editor of the online journal World PictureShe is also the author of The Flip Wilson Show (Wayne State University Press, 2008), and has published essays on the entanglements of media, politics, and philosophy in a range of different journals and anthologies. She is currently at work on a book called Variety: The Extra Aesthetic and the Constitution of Modern Media (Duke University Press, forthcoming).

The keynote address, titled “Liberalism, Media and the State of Abandon,” will take place Saturday, October 3 at 6:00 PM in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. The prevailing frameworks for addressing the politics of the image today almost inevitably depend on an opposition: they identify the systematic logics of reason and representation with the institutions of liberal governance and the techno-economic subject they imply, while aligning the relational forces of affect, presentation, and excess with an inherently political disruption of these very same logics and institutions. Although the terms and questions that drive these frameworks vary considerably, and there is always an effort to point toward forms of reciprocity between the two domains they structure, we find a variant of its set-up in Jacques Ranciere’s distinction between politics and police; in Chantal Mouffe’s critique of liberalism in The Democratic Paradox; and in a range of either affect- or object-driven approaches to the critique of liberal logics of representation, including those of Elizabeth Povinelli and Lauren Berlant, among others. This talk dramatizes the problems with embracing such an opposition. To do so it interrogates an increasingly prominent trope in the critique of liberalism—namely, the state of abandon—promoting a far more complex understanding of its significance for the performance of political dissent in contemporary media culture, and for the “politics of representation” we might imagine in their image.